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William Heath wins Western Writers of America Spur Award

Wednesday, August 10th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

The Children Bob Moses Led by William HeathWilliam Heath (The Children Bob Moses Led) is the winner of the Spur Award for Best Western Historical Nonfiction for his new book William Wells and and the Struggle for the Old Northwest. The Spur Awards are given by the Western Writers of America. Heath’s is the first biography of William Well, a frontiersman born to Anglo parents and captured and raised by Miami Indians.

Heath has written on a variety of topics, with works of fiction, history, and poetry published. His novel The Children Bob Moses Led was named by Time magazine as one of the eleven best novels of the African American experience in 2002. The novel was recently republished by NewSouth Books.

Congratulations Bill on the Spur Award!

The Children Bob Moses Led is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Faye Gibbons celebrates literary legacy of Sue Pickett

Tuesday, August 9th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

The Path was Steep by Suzanne PickettOne NewSouth author pays homage to another in the current issue of Alabama Heritage magazine. Faye Gibbons, author of the young adult novel Halley, penned a beautiful appreciation of Suzanne Pickett, whose memoir The Path Was Steep: A Memoir of Appalachian Coal Camps During the Great Depression was rereleased by NewSouth Books in 2013. Gibbons writes that though Pickett worked as a newspaper writer, “her memoir offers the most endearing insight into her life and the lives of others who survived during the Depression.”

Gibbons is no stranger to hard times herself, having grown up in a large Appalachian farm family and lived in mill towns in Georgia. Her article follows Suzanne Pickett from her birth in a mining family to her marriage to a miner, David Pickett. Struggling to survive the Depression, the family moved to follow jobs, and tried farming. Sue landed a newspaper job for a brief time that helped to supplement income. Even after her husband landed a more secure job, Pickett continued to write, producing plays for local students and short stories. She then went on to write the memoir that Gibbons says “captures the Depression in all its misery and shows how one family was able to endure hardships.” Adds Gibbons, “Even at a time when few women in her circumstances had literary ambitions, Suzanne Pickett was able to use words to create a compelling portrait of a formative time in our history.”

Suzanne Pickett

Suzanne Pickett

Halley and The Path Was Steep are available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

John Pritchard named Mississippi “Legend”

Monday, August 8th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Junior Ray: A Novel, by John PritchardJohn Pritchard, author of the Junior Ray series, was amused to see himself listed as a “legend” among Mississippi authors on the website for the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Experience, a cultural center set to open in 2017.

He noted, “There are some, in fact, who might insist that I have always been entirely fictitious!”

Pritchard is delighted that this recognition proves him to be an actual, living author, and one placed in the company of Eudora Welty, Tennessee Williams, and John Grisham, among many other greats. Long live Junior Ray!

The Junior Ray series — Junior Ray, The Yazoo Blues, and Sailing to Alluvium — is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Rod Davis and co-panelists kill it at State of the Book Crime Fiction panel

Friday, August 5th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

South, America by Rod DavisThe panel, “Crime Fiction: The Genre of Dissent, Values and Codes of Conduct,” part of Gemini Ink’s State of the Book conference, was a great success even on a very hot Saturday afternoon in San Antonio. Part of the reason was the location of the retro-Latino hotel, El Tropicano, on the banks of the Riverwalk, and a lot of people in the crowded lobby and bar also attending a Shriner’s convention.

Rod Davis and his co-panelists Christopher Cook, author of Robbers and other crime and literary fiction, and Eusebio Diaz, vice president of the Baptist Health Foundation and an avid reader of classic crime and crime noir, took the audience of about 30 into an exploration of the evolution of crime and crime noir, and also the fundamental issues of right and wrong, crime and sin, and vengeance and justice that mark the country’s second most popular literary genre.

Rod and Christopher also discussed the need to avoid didactic messages and the value of making even the bad characters at least a little “good” to make then memorable characters. Rod, author of the critically-acclaimed crime noir, South, America, and the forthcoming Shoot When You Shoot, Die When You Die, explained how the addition of even small humanizing effects on the bad guys, along with flaws in the good guys, makes the conflict between them more dynamic.

The panel was based on audience interaction, which carried over into lengthy conversations following the presentations. Rod also got to visit with former San Antonio Express-News colleague Gregg Barrios, known for his plays Rancho Pancho and I-DJ and work with actor/poet James Franco. A number of authors from Texas and elsewhere also presented at the 4-day event, with closing remarks from Clay Smith, Editor in Chief of Kirkus Reviews and Literary Director of the San Antonio Book Festival.

South, America is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Attorney Fred Gray at DNC convention reflects on our political history

Thursday, August 4th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System by Fred GrayLegendary civil rights attorney Fred Gray spoke to the Montgomery Advertiser about his experience as a delegate for Hillary Clinton at the recent Democratic National Convention.

Of his experience winning ground-breaking cases against racial discrimination, Attorney Gray said, “It has contributed toward having an African-American president and then a female president, and who knows where the Lord may permit us to go after we elect Mrs. Clinton.”

Fred Gray’s memoir Bus Ride to Justice: Changing the System by the System, the Life and Works of Fred Gray is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Virginian-Pilot features historical novel Forsaken in extended article

Thursday, July 21st, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Forsaken by Ross Howell

The Virginian-Pilot featured the Forsaken book trailer, and links to Forsaken: The Digital Bibliography at the Library of Virginia, in an extensive article covering the genesis, action, and themes of Ross Howell Jr.’s powerful historical novel. Denise M. Watson interviewed Howell, who told about coming across the story of Virginia Christian, a juvenile tried for murder and executed by the state, while researching another criminal case, and later learning of a dissertation on her execution written by Dr. Derryn Moten.

The Virginian-Pilot article examines the facts of the case, and notes how Howell weaves in interconnected material, including the eugenics movement in early 20th-century Virginia. Howell told the Virginian-Pilot, “I have always seen myself as a fiction writer, and I felt that if I could bring this girl to life that it would make the story of her fate much more compelling, and that’s what I set out to do. I hope I did that.”

The Library of Virginia subsequently digitized and indexed many of the historical documents from Howell’s research for an exhibit related to the book.

Forsaken is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Steve Flowers wins unanimous vote of Grove Hill Book Club

Thursday, June 23rd, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Of Goats and Governors: Six Decades of Colorful Alabama Political Stories by Steve Flowers

Of Goats & Governors: Six Decades of Colorful Alabama Political Stories author Steve Flowers “accomplished something phenomenal” when he spoke to the Grove Hill, AL Book Club on June 24, says Annell Gordon, who coordinated his visit. “He took the sensitive topic of politics and made it a fun conversation — a real rarity in these divisive times.”

While visiting Grove Hill, Flowers chatted with radio talk show host Deborah Rankins (The Rankins Files), who said, “I applaud him for preserving Alabama’s colorful political history with such great humor. Generations to come will enjoy his stories.” Added Gordon, “Several of our book club members have said they wished Steve would run for governor. Two or three have even offered to help him campaign.” Now there’s an idea!

Steve Flowers signing Of Goats & Governors for Deborah Rankins

Steve Flowers signing Of Goats & Governors for Deborah Rankins

Annell Gordon, Deborah Rankins, Jim Herod (Book Club President), Steve Flowers, Jim Cox (Editor, Clarke County Democrat), and Linda Vice (Director of Tourism for Rural Southwest Alabama)

Annell Gordon, Deborah Rankins, Jim Herod (Book Club President), Steve Flowers,
Jim Cox (Editor, Clarke County Democrat), and Linda Vice (Director of Tourism for Rural Southwest Alabama)

Of Goats & Governors is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Alan Cross applauds Southern Baptist decision on Confederate Flag

Wednesday, June 22nd, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

When Heaven and Earth Collide: Racism, Southern Evangelicals, and the Better Way of Jesus by Alan Cross

The Religion News Service quoted Alan Cross, author of When Heaven and Earth Collide: Racism, Southern Evangelicals, and the Better Way of Jesus, in an article on the resolution passed by the Southern Baptist Convention calling on Christians to cease displaying the Confederate battle flag.

Cross called the decision “the most wonderful surprise, a complete denunciation of the flag because of what it represents and because of the Southern symbol that it is to African American brothers and sisters in Christ.” Please join NewSouth Books in celebrating this moving and meaningful development.

When Heaven and Earth Collide is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

In wake of Orlando, Rheta Grimsley Johnson talks coming out in the South

Wednesday, June 15th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Crooked Letter i: Coming Out in the SouthRheta Grimsley Johnson speaks truth to power in her newest column, published in the Daily Corinthian among other newspapers. In the wake of the tragic shooting in Orlando, Johnson notes the particular danger that LGBT Southerners face being out in the South, both from hate groups and from legislation that targets LGBT citizens.

In a column entitled “Coming out in the South is no walk in the park” Johnson cites the anthology Crooked Letter i: Coming out in the South, recently published by NewSouth Books, saying, “The true stories in Crooked Letter i have one thing in common: They all are heart-rending. Edited by Connie Griffin, they deal with the moment — or, in some cases, moments — these Southern members of the LGBT community first told kin, friends or the world the truth about themselves.”

Johnson berates “hate-mongers” and legislators for targeting LGBT taxpayers, but also observes, “Once your grandmother is in the loop, has pulled you to her accepting bosom, then winning the approval of backward, hypocritical, ignorant and often crooked politicians doesn’t much matter. Those guilty lawmakers will have to live with themselves.”

Rheta Grimsley Johnson’s books Poor Man’s Provence: Finding Myself in Cajun Louisiana, Enchanted Evening Barbie and the Second Coming, and Hank Hung the Moon . . . And Warmed Our Cold, Cold Hearts are available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookstore.

Wiktionary cites novelist John Pritchard on unusual word

Monday, June 13th, 2016 by Lisa Harrison

Sailing to Alluvium by John PritchardLeland Shaw, the shell-shocked World War II veteran featured in the novels Junior Ray, The Yazoo Blues, and Sailing to Alluvium by John Pritchard, “never hesitates to warp and work a word to his uses” according to Pritchard, who claims — in Sailing to Alluvium — that the word “smiteful” just fell out of Shaw’s mouth as he, Pritchard, was transcribing the character’s journals.

Editors of Wiktionary, the “lexical companion to Wikipedia,” took note and included the Sailing to Alluvium reference in the dictionary’s entry for the word “smiteful.”

When Pritchard was asked what Leland Shaw might think about the Wiktionary citation, Pritchard quoted a “telepathogram” he received from Shaw that said, “The entry’s value is predicated entirely upon the notion that we shall always have electricity.”

Sailing to Alluvium is available from NewSouth Books or your favorite bookseller.